If you’ve been blogging for a while, you might have caught the ‘writing bug’. For many, this means making the shift from simply being a ‘writer’ to a published ‘author’.
Having a published/self-published book can be deeply satisfying on a personal level. But on a practical level, it can also help you expand your ideas and reach a wider audience. A good book has ‘shelf life’, i.e. the potential to make sales over a longer period of time. But earning additional income from book sales should not be your primary incentive for repurposing your content into a book. Rather, you should see your book as an extension of your marketing. In other words, your main practical reason for repurposing your blog content is to attract more clients/customers – not to make you rich or famous.
But repurposing your blog content is not a simple matter of compiling your blog posts, slapping a cover on it and calling it a book. While your articles might provide the foundation for information you will deliver within your book, they will need to be edited, expanded, proofed and formatted so they make sense within this different medium. Here are 10 steps to guide you through the process.
- MAKE AN OUTLINE. Even if you will be drawing your content from many of your past articles, the first thing you should do is create an outline of the structure of the book. Then, splice your articles into appropriate chapters. This will give you a better idea of the flow from beginning to end, and help you see what might be missing (or redundant) in your articles.
- DELETE, DELETE, DELETE. A good book is comprised of 100% CONTENT. You cannot simply copy and paste your articles into their respective chapters and leave them as they appeared on your website. Many of the conventions essential to a good blog post – such as teasers, calls to action and any self-promoting references to one’s services – are inappropriate within the context of a book and will need to be taken out. I think one of the biggest turn-offs is when the flow of a book is interrupted by constant self-references to the author’s products and services. This is not to say you cannot draw from your professional experiences as ‘case studies’ to illustrate a point; but don’t try to sell to your readers while you are making that point!
- TOP AND TAIL. After you’ve taken out all the blog-specific elements, go through the chapters and write an introduction and conclusion for each one.
- MOVE STUFF AROUND. Next, read through the book from beginning to end to see if there is any repeated material, or if any of the content seems out of order. You might need to move (or remove) things to ensure they make sense.
- FILL IN THE BLANKS. Once things are in roughly the right order, go through the book and see where it might need ‘linking sections’. A linking section or statement might be something like, ‘Back in Chapter 2, we talked about x, y, z,’ or, ‘We’ll be looking at a, b, c later in Chapter 15.’ This helps the reader follow the flow of the book.
- WRITE YOUR BOOKENDS. Once the book has a shape, it’s time to write the ‘bookends’: the Introduction and Conclusion. The Introduction (appearing before Chapter 1) should tell readers the basic premise of the book and give an outline of what will be covered. It should also engage readers from the start, and make them WANT to read more. Then, in the Conclusion, sum up what you’ve discussed, and guide readers towards the next steps they might wish to take after finishing the book.
- BACK PAGES. After the Conclusion, you will need to construct your ‘back pages’. This could include your references and/or index (if you are using one), as well as a few pages for self-promotion, where you talk a bit about your business or services, and links to your website, social media , etc. Keep this simple, and resist the temptation to turn it into a blatant advertisement.
- AUTHOR BIO. At the end of your book, dedicate an entire page to your author biography. Be sure to include a good headshot (i.e. one that wasn’t taken with your cell phone). Writing an effective author bio is an art unto itself too lengthy a subject to go into in this article. However, you will find a comprehensive guide to writing a good bio in Chapter 4 of my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging.
- USE A GOOD EDITOR. Even if you are publishing a 10,000-word eBook, don’t be stingy and try to publish it without the use of a good editor/proof-reader. ANY book, no matter how small, should be put into the hands of a skilled, reliable editor. This person should have experience in editing books (not just short pieces) and know how to bring flow and cohesiveness to your text. If you don’t know an editor like this, ask other authors in your field to refer one to you.
- GIVE CARE TO FORMATTING. After you and your editor/proof-reader decide the book is ‘done’, you will need to format it. Don’t take formatting lightly; it is an integral part of the reader’s experience with your book. Good marketing and a good cover might entice people to buy your book, but bad formatting might prevent them from feeling like reading it after they’ve bought it. Also, be aware that formatting for paperback is significantly different from Kindle/eBook formatting. You cannot simply upload a PDF of your paperback version to Kindle and expect it to look right. If you don’t know how to make your format work, hire someone to do it for you. Again, I recommend you ask other authors in your network for referrals, rather than hire the first person who comes along.
The ideas in this article are adapted from ‘Chapter 19: Repurpose Your Blog Content’ from my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging, which will be coming out later this year (2016). More than 500 pages in length, that book is an amalgamation of everything I know about blogging, including all the technological, business and marketing strategies I have used with my own clients over the past eight years.
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I hope you found this article helpful. If you are a business owner seeking to develop your platform through blogging and social media, or an author (or aspiring one) seeking to develop your writing into a brand, I invite you to contact me to discuss how our team might be able to help you.
15 February 2016
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, an independent marketing consultancy created to support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their businesses ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
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